March 19, 2019 Poetry , POETRY / FICTION

Peg Hunter photo



Bunkong Tuon




An American Tale



This story is as old as

The genocide of Native Americans,


The selling of Africans like cattle

On the auction blocks,


The founding and building

Of America


Where anyone nonwhite is

Murdered, bought and sold, kept out.


For lance corporal Ramos-Gomez

His brown skin triggers the police’s memory


Of elsewhere, not here in the U.S.A.

His first name only confirms it.


The police captain writes down “loco” and

Calls in ICE.


It doesn’t matter that Jilmar is

A citizen


Who fought in the Global War on Terrorism,

A Marine who was awarded medals for


The terror he saw and endured,

Who suffers from PTSD,


Blacking out and waking up to a fire

Burning his feet, ghostly cries and screaming,


Helicopter blades chopping the air

At midnight in Michigan or is it the borders


Of Afghanistan? It doesn’t matter.

Deport him to where he was born:


Not far from Grand Rapids,

In America’s heartland.






Bunkong Tuon

Bunkong Tuon is the author of Gruel (NYQ Books, 2015), And So I Was Blessed (NYQ Books, 2017), and Dead Tongue (with Joanna C. Valente, forthcoming from Yes Poetry), as well as a contributor to Cultural Weekly. He’s working on a book of poems about raising his daughter in Trump America. He is an associate professor of English and Asian Studies at Union College.

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